Opequon Mills, Va., Sept. 19, 1864
The battle of Opequon Mills, also known as the third battle of Winchester, was fought on September 19, 1864, during the American Civil War. The Union forces, led by General Philip Sheridan, engaged Confederate forces commanded by General Jubal Early. The battle resulted in a Union victory and marked a turning point in the Shenandoah Valley campaign.
After his successful campaign in the Valley in the summer of 1864, General Sheridan was ordered to move east to join General Grant’s forces outside of Petersburg. However, Confederate General Early saw an opportunity to strike back and launched an offensive against Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley. On September 19th, Early’s troops attacked the Union army near the Opequon Creek, just north of Winchester, Virginia.
The battle began at dawn as the Confederate forces launched a surprise attack on the Union army’s left flank. However, the Union troops were quickly able to regroup and hold off the Confederate advance. As the battle continued, General Sheridan arrived on the field and personally led a charge that broke the Confederate lines. The Union forces then pursued the retreating Confederates, inflicting heavy casualties and capturing many prisoners.
The battle of Opequon Mills was a costly one for both sides, with over 9,000 casualties. However, it was a decisive victory for the Union forces, as they were able to push the Confederates out of the Shenandoah Valley and secure the region for the remainder of the war.
The battle also marked a significant shift in the tactics employed by General Sheridan. He recognized the importance of the cavalry in the Shenandoah campaign and used it to great effect in the battle, particularly in the pursuit of the retreating Confederate forces. The Union cavalry under General Wesley Merritt played a crucial role in the battle and contributed greatly to the Union victory.
Overall, the battle of Opequon Mills was a significant engagement in the American Civil War and marked a turning point in the Shenandoah Valley campaign. The Union victory secured the region for the Union forces and demonstrated the effectiveness of General Sheridan’s leadership and tactics.